Live: Optimo Regale 14-Hour Party People At The Bunker
Better than: Watching Antony Hopkins play Hitler in The Bunker.
Any party in New York that reaches even its first anniversary deserves a celebratory bash. So one can imagine how debauched the Bunker's yearly celebrations have gotten now that they're on their eighth. Started by Bryan Kasenic (DJ Spinoza) in the early '00s, the dance-music party has consistently brought the best underground DJs to town well before they blew up on an national or international level: Akufen, Marcel Dettmann, Anthony "Shake" Shakir, Octave One, Christian Vogel, and M.A.N.D.Y. have all played the multi-room, multi-floor shindig. At last year's birthday fete, it was decided that this year's anniversary guests should spin eight-hour sets, so that is exactly what we get tonight: Optimo in the front room and Donato Dozzy in the back room both go from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., while Derek Plaslaiko reigns from 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the loft. Come on out, 14-hour party people, this one's for you.
Headliners Optimo are the perfect choice to help commemorate this occasion. They encapsulate in their sets what the Bunker celebrates with its bookings: a blatant lack of boundaries. At times, they both lean heavier in certain musical directions, but always return to the old "if it's good, it's played" maxim. While not quite as eclectic or populist as last April's vaunted five-hour Optimogeddon set, eight hours does allow Optimo to stretch their act out to even deeper, darker corners. Some recognizable bits are still there for the crowd, though, such as a great, heavy remix of Cajmere's "Percolator," an instrumental version of "I'll House You," or the riff from "Is It All Over My Face" looped over and over until it's mixed back into early-'90s piano house. Around 2 or 3 a.m., the pair start tag-teaming for long solo sets, which sends things into a heavier and more ominous direction, which the crowd appreciates.
The packed crowd comes early and stays late, with little room to dance until around 4 in either the front or the back. Public Assembly can be very confusing to navigate as each party utilizes different rooms and entry/exit points, so unfortunately for Bunker resident Derek Plaslaiko, the loft still was a bit empty by 5:30. Which is too bad, because the Voice's own Best Techno DJ of 2006 is a journeyman DJ returning home from Berlin with many German treasures under his arm. He starts things off Balearic, but things don't stay mellow for long.
A long trip to the back room reveals a surprise world of dance-floor humpers and loved-up late-night tweakers, perfectly matching Donato Dozzy's hypnotic mind-grooves. While he's also traveling to the outer reaches, its more of a mental trip -- there's a psychedelic aspect to everything he plays, no matter the tempo. His music almost demands a four-hour-plus set, as each track can stretch on forever, mixing groove upon tribal groove. Dozzy gets a lot of respect in the "mnml" community for his unique style and legendary shows, such as his epic closing set at Japan's Labyrinth Festival; from his mix tonight, its clear that reputation is earned.
As any parent can tell you, eighth-birthday parties are not supposed to be this much fun. Mine was at Skate 22 Roller Rink in Scotch Plains, NJ. I thought it was pretty cool at the time. This is definitely cooler.
Critical Bias: Three eclectic DJs playing all-inclusive sets of different sub-genres, all under one roof. If you can't find something here that you like, then you don't like anything, and there's nothing for you anywhere.
Overheard: "Is the DJ bartending now?" asked one patron about a bartender who honestly did greatly resemble Optimo's JD Twitch.
Random Notebook Dump: Public Assembly is becoming the early-morning venue of the moment. Anyone that throws a New Year's Day psy-trance party starting at 4 a.m. is clearly not mucking about.